March 29, 2013

Taylor adjusting to end

John Taylor from Anthony Dasher on Vimeo.

John Taylor said Friday his role at defensive end is suiting him just fine.

A redshirt freshman, the former Jenkins County standout worked out exclusively at nose last season for the Bulldogs before coaches moved him to end prior to the start of spring drills.

"Coaches felt it was the best fit for me because we had a bunch of nose guards coming in," Taylor said after practice Friday. "I'm actually pretty excited because I can go out and make plays, maybe get some 1-on-1s rushing the passer."

Taylor's move to end wasn't the only piece of info gleaned from the post-practice interview session.

Junior Mike Thornton said he's repping as the first-team nose, both in Georgia's base 3-4 and nickel.

"So far, nothing has surprised me," said Thornton, who revealed he weighs 289 pounds but expects to play at 295. "With me it's getting use to going out with the ones first because it's been a while. It's just a matter of building my confidence and being able to play fast. It's an opportunity I'm going to take advantage of."

Thornton doesn't resemble his predecessors at the position, John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers, who stood 6-4 and 6-6, tipping the scales at over 360 pounds, respectively.

But the 6-foot former Stephenson High standout said being short has its advantages.

"I feel like being a shorter guy, I can get up under the offensive linemen better than Kwame or John could," Thornton said. "I'm a little bit quicker than those guys, but I learned a lot from them about how to play blocks, so I'm going to take from them being the size that they are and use my quickness."

Although he is currently with the ones, Thornton said early enrollees John Atkins and Chris Mayes are also competing for the job.

"It's not me just playing 2-gaps, they're putting me in a position where I can make more plays," he said. "Sometimes I play two gaps but mostly it's just one gap and take advantage of what I can do."

Taylor (6-4, 325) is currently backing up senior Garrison Smith at left defensive end.

"Things are going good," Taylor said. "Me, Garrison (Smith), Sterling (Bailey), Ray (Drew), we've all been rotating in and out there."

Bailey said he's been impressed.

"(Taylor) is doing real well, being able to transition over to end and playing at that weight," Bailey said. "He's showing the coaches that he can play end and that's a real big help for us."

Bailey said he and Drew are basically splitting the reps at first team right end.

"That's basically how it goes, whichever one is doing good, Coach (Chris Wilson) will put that one in," he said. "It's been good rotating with him (Drew)."

Come fall, the Bulldogs will add DeAndre Johnson and Toby Johnson into the mix.

"Coming into the spring my No. 1 goal was just to get better, build off of last year and show the coaches I can play," said Bailey. "That's what I've been trying to do."

NOTES: The Bulldogs practiced for the second day in a row on Friday afternoon as the squad has its second scrimmage of the spring scheduled for Saturday morning. "We had a shortened practice today to try and save some energy for Saturday's scrimmage," said Richt. "I thought we got some good work in on some Red Zone plays and got the chance to practice our one-minute offense. Marshall Morgan drilling two field goals during some of those drills was probably one of the highlights out there today. There was also some good passing and catching going on, which is always nice to see with G-Day coming up." … Wide receiver Rantavious Wooten missed his second straight day of practice due to an undisclosed illness. … Smith joked that he's given Thornton a new nickname - Meatball, to describe the 6-0, 289-pounder. "It is what it is. If Garrison made it up, so I guess I'll take. I answer to it, 'Yeah, that's Ole Meatball,'" Thornton said. As for Smith, Thornton said he'll return the favor soon. "We call him G-Baby, but I'm going to figure out something for him."

Mike Thornton from Anthony Dasher on Vimeo.